I’m in a weird in-between stage in my life, and I don’t know if I like it. Actually, I think my family would attest to me not liking it very much, considering how much I’ve moaned about it lately!
All my life, my next step has been predetermined and secure. I have always known what was coming next and I have revelled and flourished under the semi-pressure that came from knowing exactly what I needed to do to reach that next step. GCSEs, to get me into sixth form. A-levels, to get me into university. A degree, two placements and an interview to secure my NQT job. I’d never be so full of my own self-importance as to use the following phrase seriously, but I have always rather liked it:
Now, however, I’m in a position I’d hoped I wouldn’t be in, with no secure plans for September. It’s been this way since late May, and despite my efforts I’m no closer to having a class this side of Christmas. Coronavirus has battered recruitment across every job market: even the mantra of many of my family members, ‘there will always be a need for teachers’ seems not to ring true for me at present!
I was chatting with a friend lately, reminiscing old times and lamenting my lack of employment with a liberal sprinkling of humour and gifs (the latter of which is a staple of online conversation with me.) I likened the whole situation to having fallen off a treadmill that had run non-stop since I started school, aged four and a half.
My friend got me thinking though, when he very levelly remarked, ‘treadmills are over-rated’.
Treadmills are over-rated.
I think I’m beginning to have the realisation that most people have in their twenties: that life is not moving at the same pace fit everybody anymore.
I have friends who will start their NQT year this September, friends who have made plans to move and teach abroad this autumn, friends who aren’t teachers who are forging paths in their own fields. I have friends who are engaged, friends who are having babies, friends in long-term relationships, friends who are single.
It’s not like being in a secondary school cohort where you’ll all walk away with a clutch of GCSEs an a college place. My university cohort has scattergunned across the country (and the world) and nobody is doing the same as anybody else anymore.
Maybe I haven’t fallen off the treadmill at all.
Maybe the treadmill doesn’t exist.
In which case, my wise friend was entirely right. Treadmills are over-rated.
However, this does leave me with quite a task at hand – making peace with not knowing, and recognising that not knowing could lead to something wonderful.